Gastroenteritis is a common condition that caused by bacteria or a virus and it mostly effects children but can also can effect adults as well. It causes watery diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, cramping, low fever and more. You may also know Gastroenteritis as an upset stomach or food poisining. In 2015, it was reported that 1.3 million globally died from Gastroenteritis and 500,000 deaths in children younger than 5 years annually. In this blog post I am going to review a randomized placebo controlled trial that tested Lactobacillus Rhamnosus & Lactobacillus Helveticus for Gastroenteritis. It was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01853124.
From this study a total of 846 children between 2013 - 2017 with acute gastroenteritis were recruited for this placebo controlled study with the help of the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada Probiotic (PERC) Regimen for Outpatient Gastroenteritis Utility of Treatment (PROGUT) Trial Group. It was published in the Nature Communications journal on the 21st of May 2020.
They provided stool samples for study and completed follow up evaluations. The unique part of this study was that the children were randomized to either receive a supplement containing L. rhamnosus R0011 and L. helveticus R0052 (4.0 × 109 cfu) or a placebo making it easy to see if the probiotic bacteria had any impact on the acute gastroenteritis. The children had a mixture viral 55.3%, bacterial 4.5% and then a mixture of everything including parasites.
After taking either the placebo or the probiotic combination twice daily for 5-days they were evaluated by a physician and were followed up for 14-days where they had had their symptoms recorded, stool samples taken.
The results clearly showed that there was no difference in symptoms or recovery between the children who took a placebo or the real probiotic supplement for 5-days. The probiotics showed no benefits in this study.
Despite showing no benefits for Gastroenteritis in this study, it's still great to know how different probiotic strains work for different issues. It's likely that results could have been different if a more diverse range of Lactobacillus Bacteria was tested, for a long period of time and at a stronger CFU count.
It's a shame that no information was provided on how the probiotics were stored or if the capsules were resistant to stomach acid. Both of these things could have reduced the potency of the Lactobacillus Bacteria. It's also unclear if the children took the probiotic's with or without meals which is another factor that could have influenced the probiotic efficacy.
If you experience any symptoms of gastroenteritis, consult with your doctor as soon as possible. Do not use probiotic supplements to replace any prescribed medication.
Reference: Freedman, S.B., Xie, J., Nettel-Aguirre, A. et al. A randomized trial evaluating virus-specific effects of a combination probiotic in children with acute gastroenteritis. Nat Commun 11, 2533 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16308-3